Sunday, 7 March 2010


It's that time of year again. Today is the Bath Half Marathon, and as elderly Cro prepares to tuck into his 4 course, gourmet meal a few hundred miles away across the English Channel, I am gearing up for the sort of event depicted in the picture above.

Don't get me wrong, I am not a participant in this grueling charity fund-raiser, but I am involved - albeit reluctantly. When I tell you that I live just behind that 'Start/Finish' banner in the photo, you will understand the extent and the level of my involvement.

I am marooned in a sea of fitness-fanatics, and will be until long after dark tonight. If I had any aspirations to travel to Bristol today (as I had one year), then I might as well forget them, as the City Centre is completely cut off from the west by road-closures. I have a central-zone parking permit, but if I had left my car where I normally do (about a quarter of a mile from the house), I would have to pay £220 to get it back from the pound where it would have been towed.

There seems to be a semi-professional band of marathon runners who are prepared to travel great distances to take part in events like this, and many thousands of them turn up to Bath every year to clog the streets and generally get in the way. They behave like an invading army, and wander about in the middle of the road as if they own it, shouting abuse at elderly residents in motor-cars. They are encouraged by the locals too - one of my friends is competing today, and I will be obliged to give him a tenner, assuming he crosses the finishing line sometime within the next 6 hours, with or without having suffered a heart-attack. He's older than me. Each runner comes with a group of at least 20 supporters, and there are a few thousand runners.

Do I seem curmudgeonly? Am I not entering into the spirit of things? Should I just keep my mouth shut for the sake of all the money which goes to charity? Should I banish the desire to see the event moved to the outskirts of Athens, where it belongs? (Don't answer these rhetorical questions).

There used to be a great, little street-party held every year in ONE street here, when everyone would wander about in the crowded road, listening to music, watching shows, drinking and taking various drugs. Our MP would wander about, bumming cigarettes off his constituents, and chatting above the pounding music of the multiple DJs. Everyone had a good time. Such a good time, in fact, that the local council banned it from the street, and banished it to a distant meadow, out of everyone's way. Why? Because the local shops derived no benefit from it, unless they were prepared to set up sandwich stalls in the street itself, and the police were fed up with having to turn a blind eye to all the semi-illegal trading that took place there, despite the fact that private security was always on hand.



  1. Tom, the human body is NOT designed to take hours of jolting shocks to the feet, tripes, or dangly bits. Leave it to the fools, and retire to your local hostelry. Marathon runners die young.

  2. I just tried that, and all the hostelries are full of marathon runners.

  3. Cro magnon is right. Our legs and feet were meant for walking not running long distances. My dad loved to run, until his knees went bad.

  4. How inappropriate it is to run rather than swim in Bath.

  5. The only way they let you swim in Bath water these days, Mise, is if you pay them about £18 to help recover the colossal loss of money they spent on keeping the locals away from their resources by building a private spa over the pool (actually UNDER the pool - it's a roof-top pool). This spa was built using public money, and was about £15,000,000 over budget - we think, but do not know for sure.

    The original Marathon was celebrated as a desperate act of war-time necessity, before the invention of radio communications. Why the hell Anglo-Saxons think they should celebrate it, thousands of years later, is beyond me too.